Youth Is Wasted on the Dumb

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Characters (adolescent or young adults, usually) get together to do something manifestly dumb and often prohibited, but hey, they're young and so immortal, aren't they? The hold-outs are often persuaded because they don't want to look like a Dirty Coward, and often one of the bolder characters urges it's Not Cheating Unless You Get Caught. Visiting an abandoned house or performing a ritual are common. Bullying a Dragon can be a form of it; you're not afraid of him just because he can warp space-and-time with his thoughts! The Call Receival Area and the Forbidden Zone are popular destinations. A particularly idiotic Wild Teen Party may feature one, especially if the participients got very, very drunk.

Occasionally performed by a solitary figure (but even then he often bragged about it beforehand).

Popular Horror Trope. Often makes them Too Dumb to Live. "Hey everyone, we should so go to the abandoned camp ground where dozens have been slaughtered in the last year and have a party with bad music and alcohol! Afterwards, we'll all split up and have sex!!"

Compare Kimodameshi. Scare Dare involves even younger characters, children, and is much less likely to be dangerous.

Contrast Deadly Prank, where someone else is imperiled. If whatever they do ends up backfiring and yet they get out of it without a scratch, then it's No One Should Survive That.

Note: does not cover shows that set challenges; this is something the characters dream up of their own stupidity.

Because this is very, very, very much Truth in Television, no need for Real Life examples. If you really want Real Life examples, try looking at the Teens Are Monsters page.

Examples of Youth Is Wasted on the Dumb include:



"This year, 3 million young adults out there will get their drivers' license. Better get yourself a safe car."



  • Bruce Banner became the Hulk because Rick Jones accepted a dare to drive onto a nuclear testing site. To his credit, Rick has spent a good chunk of the rest of his life trying to make it up to Bruce as best he can.


  • In Dan Abnett's Warhammer 40,000 novel Brothers of the Snake, Space Marines are forbidden to try a stunt, diving into a sea trench and leaving something. One young Marine does it, and has an older Marine come to ensure that he needs no help. Then, later, another tries, and the Marine who goes after him is only able to recover the corpse.
  • In Poul Anderson's Operation Chaos, when Stephan goes back to college after the war, a prankster conjures up a fire elemental, and it escapes his control.
  • In Lee Lightner's Warhammer 40,000 Space Wolf novel Sons of Fenris, Lieutenant Paulinus tries to remember his travels in the city in his younger days. He was ashamed of them -- "callow youths looking for cheap thrills"—but now, he needs to lead his men in those sections.
  • The fake terrorists from Larry Niven and Pournelle's book Oath of Fealty - see Too Dumb to Live for more information on this.
  • Older Than Print: In Beowulf, the titular hero describes his and his cousin's swimming across the sea as something they did when they were young and prideful.
  • In Terry Pratchett's Carpe Jugulum, the old Count even named his castle "Dontgonearthe Castle" to invoke this trope. It worked.
  • In Sandy Mitchell's Cain's Last Stand, Ciaphas Cain observes that Kayla has too much sense to keep up with Jurgen's crazy driving, despite the delusions of immortality that youth gives.


Live Action TV

  • Law and Order and its spinoffs sometimes have to deal with the aftermath of a hazing gone wrong; ditto CSI.
  • Alex Russo of Wizards of Waverly Place defines this trope to a T - so very much so that the trope could also be called 'The Alex Russo Rule'.
  • Or the Sam Puckett Rule
  • Half the population of Sunnydale.
  • In Doctor Who episode The Invasion Of Time, the Doctor assures Borusa that his faciliating the invasion of Gallifrey is not this.
    • In The Dominators, Cully and his friends arrive on the island without permits, for thrills. It makes it hard for him to persuade anyone after the others get killed.
  • Virtually all the teenage characters in Twin Peaks are so dumb it's almost painful to watch. From Bobby trying to scam Ben Horne to Shelly offering live-in care to her comatose Ax Crazy ex-boyfriend Leo (on Bobby's advice) to cash in on insurance checks to James...well, anything James does, ever, it's a wonder anyone ever reaches old age in this town.


  • In many productions, the fights that break out among the young men in the feuding houses of Romeo and Juliet are guilty of this. The only cool heads among them, Romeo and Benvolio, get called out on being scared to fight.

Video Games

  • The premise of Shivers is that you get locked in an abandoned haunted museum on a dare.

Western Animation

  • Bumblebee in Transformers Animated might not technically be a kid (as far as we can tell), but he's got the mind of one and does equivalent stupid stuff. The most notable might be his upgrading himself with illegal and dangerous boosters and sneaking out onto an underground racing circuit with Sari.